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Jinxed

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Fishing, from a number of perspectives

It’s warm outside, but the breeze coming off the lake keeps the air crisp. Lake Pend Oreille is glassy and flat, the wind only causing the slightest of ripples in the water. I am fishing today, anticipating catching the “big one” off of Captain Ken’s Seagull Charters. It’s been almost two years since I have been aboard and I have been practicing my fishing skills, patiently waiting for the day to come when I could board his boat and land the mighty finned wonder that will amaze and captivate my companions. My fish is out there - my skin tingles at the idea of my fish, I can feel him and I am one with the fish.

Cocky Captain Kirk the Kokanee:

There they are, sitting high on that Seagull Charter boat, floating above us like they own the water.  They think they are really smooth, think they can toss out a little sushi and my Kokanee crew and I will come swimming out and fall for that old routine, hook, line and sinker. That won’t happen, though; we are smarter than the average fish and we can definitely outsmart the average fisherman. Even though Capt. Ken and I have had this grudge a long time, Captain of the Deep vs. Captain of the Boat, he will not prevail. He may try daily, tossing his colorful lures out, but I am quicker than his lines. Besides, I am protected on this lake.

Captain Ken: “Fish on! Grab the pole, okay, grab BOTH poles! Fish on again!” Captain Ken jumps wildly from the port side to the starboard side - he describes himself as a finely-tuned gazelle. I describe him as a crazed seaman, with eyes glazed over as the two Mackinaw are hauled in simultaneously by inexperienced fishermen Stacey and Levi Servis.  “Good job,” Captain Ken praises them, gloating over them the way you would a small child who has just gone potty by himself. I mean, Stacey is 26 and Levi is only 8, but Captain Ken was overjoyed with their success, just 10 minutes into the fishing adventure.

Stacey: “Whew, that was a workout. I definitely want to do that again!” Stacey exclaimed, her voice quivering with excitement. Stacey was trying not to jump up and down in her bragging. “Now THAT was a big fish!” I was pretty sure unless another fish was caught, we were bound to hear about the size of her fish the rest of the day.

Levi: Levi’s face lit up with the joy that only comes when a young man lands his first big fish. “What kind of fish did I catch?” he questioned Captain Ken with boyhood innocence. Captain Ken explained to him that both he and Stacey had caught Mackinaws and they were bounty fish, fish that were the focus of elimination in Lake Pend Oreille and by catching them, he was helping save the Kokanee.

Mackinaw Merlin: “Wow! Look at this here big ole hoochie skirt just a swimming along the shelf! Yummy!” Gulp!  “Oops, bad idea! Captain Ken must be in the water with another group. Maybe he won’t recognize my markers denoting me as Merlin Mackinaw. Maybe there is an off chance that he will think I am a Kokanee!”

Banjo: “Batter up! You are invited to dinner, Merlin!” Captain Ken had already taught Banjo the fine art of head bashing the fish to put them out of their misery. I think Banjo may have enjoyed it a bit much, though, and suddenly he was no longer just “uncle” to Levi, but Uncle Head Basher. Banjo looked down at Levi and grinned wickedly. “It’s hammer time!”

Jinx: I am next on the list to catch the fish. My excitement mounts as I feel the tug on the line, knowing that the great Walter of “On Golden Pond” and the infamous Catfish Hunter of “Grumpy Old Men” would hold no candle to the fish on the end of my line. The great fish pulled and I fought back. Pull, reel, pull, reel... I knew I had an enormous catch and I wasn’t about to stop until it was in the boat. I know women aren’t supposed to sweat, but if I were to be honest in my fishing tale, I was sweating profusely with the effort of this catch. Then, almost next to the boat, my heart racing, breathing hard with exertion, the fish spit at me. The nerve of the slimy beast! It had escaped. Levi looked at me with an impish grin, “Shoulda let me do it!” I stomped off to the bench to console myself momentarily. “Stupid fish,” I thought. “Dumb, stupid dork fish!”

Unknown fish: “Ah ha! She sure thought she had me in that net! I guess I showed them what a real fish is made of. There is more to me than just fins and gills. Though I was momentarily tempted by the lure, in the end my good sense got me out of another  “hoochie skirt incident!”  Darn those hoochies!”

Captain Ken: “It’s okay, Jinx.” Captain Ken tried to make me feel better. “I will change that hoochie skirt to another color, the fish seem to be biting the green and blue today.” Hoochie skirt? For a minute I was confused and immediately I had to ask, “Exactly what is a hoochie skirt?” Captain Ken showed me a lure that looked similar to a plastic squid with the Seahawk colors brightly waving with its mylar skirt. Inside the “hoochie skirt” was a nasty, three-pronged hook. Captain Ken almost giggled at our faces when he told us how he had to “look up” the hoochie skirts to make sure the hooks were still intact.

Banjo: Captain Ken laughed out loud after explaining the hoochie skirt when Banjo snidely remarked, “Sounds like some of the girls I’ve known!” Stacey only slightly cocked her head in a questioning look that spoke loudly, “We’ll talk later!” Together Captain Ken and Banjo tried to come up with a country tune for their new hit, “green and silver hoochie with a mylar skirt.”

Levi: With inquisitiveness only a child can display, Levi began checking out the buttons and levers. Captain Ken made sure that everything was safe for Levi to investigate. “No pushing of the buttons though, Levi,” Captain Ken interjected. Unfortunately, Captain Ken has a devilish side and showed Levi where the horn was located. Levi was extremely amused when Captain Ken blew the horn causing me to practically lunge overboard. The speaker was located above my head. Eventually Levi quit laughing at me.  Levi was only distracted for a moment when he tossed a chip overboard. Instantly Stacey asked Captain Ken, “Is tossing that chip out considered chumming?” Thankfully, Captain Ken has a lot of patience with fishing-challenged folks like us.

Jinx: I had lost on my first endeavor at catching the big one, but I didn’t let it deter me too long. Instantly I was up and ready again, assured that this time I would conquer the battle with the gilled monster that I knew was awaiting me. My heart leapt with anticipation at the tug of the line again. This time I was patient in the fight. Reeling steadily until the beastie was close to the boat, I think I might have been yelping with delight when Captian Ken scooped the fish up in the net! It was a big one! I knew it the moment I saw it! A good 8 inches long, and a fighter not willing to give up too quickly and on top of everything, the hoochie skirt was imbedded in his lip and it wasn’t going anywhere.

Stacey: The very next time Stacey heard Captain Ken yell “fish on!” she was racing Levi for the pole. Unfortunately, Stacey was in the bathroom, so she came running out of the bathroom with her pants practically around her ankles. Smile on her face, jazzed at the possibility of outdoing us again, practically jerking the pole away from Levi before she composed herself. She did let Levi reel the fish in, but I have to say, she let him know that the very next fish was hers!

Captain Ken: Sure, we enjoyed catching our fish, pounds and pounds of fish in just a few hours! Captain Ken did enjoy taking us on the scenic route of the lake as well, showing us the hand-stacked stone castle that has taken the better part of a decade to build. A spire that one would expect to see Rapunzel and her golden hair hanging out of, looking for her knight in a shining fishing boat coming to rescue her. A tunnel that leads to the lake, and a wall leading around the property, all hand cut and stacked. Captain Ken also told us of the unmanned submarines that were dragged by the tugboats, the Navy’s stealth destroyers testing for silent running for our naval defense.  Captain Ken shows his floating companions  the good life on the water and on the islands.

Levi: “Can I drive the boat back, Captain Ken?” Levi asked. I smiled to myself, thinking kids don’t realize what it takes to man a vessel. “Sure,” Captain Ken replied as I almost jumped out of my skin. Levi was driving the boat? Now where did he say those life jackets were?

Dolly Varden and her twin sister Dori: “There goes Captain Ken’s boat,” Dolly said to Dori as Seagull Charters went splashing by. “Poor Merlin,” Dori replied. “If he wasn’t such a greedy fish,  there wouldn’t be such a bounty on his head.” Dolly and Dori wiggle their tails as they jet through the water in the opposite direction. “Just in case we don’t recognize a hoochie for what it is, let’s play over this direction.” Dolly Varden leads her twin to safety. “Those Kamloops and Mackinaws had better head for cover while Captain Ken and the Seagull is out and about,” both Dolly and Dori snicker. “Those fish, always chasing the hoochie!”

For more information, or to book a tour or charter, call Seagull Charters at 208-266-1861, or visit their website at www.seagullcharters.net

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Jinx Beshears Jinx Beshears is a southern transplant to North Idaho, and shares her confusion with the Pacific Northwest Lifestyle in her column, Jinxed. When not writing, or living, her outlandish stories, she's generally lost somewhere in the mountains with her dog, Aspen.

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